Financial engineering involves the application of engineering and mathematical principles to the analysis of financial data. Financial engineers need a deep understanding of both quantitative analytical tools and of the financial industry to do well in their field.
A growing number of U.S. universities and colleges offer programs to prepare students for careers in financial engineering. Some programs are offered through graduate schools of business, while others are run by mathematics or engineering schools, or by interdisciplinary centers. The degrees they offer include specialized Master of Science, Master of Finance, and Master of Engineering degrees. Many of the top programs are 3 semesters to allow the students to work a summer internship before graduating. Don’t underestimate the importance of a solid internship to your full-time placement chances!
The school or department that runs a financial engineering program, and the degree it leads to, are factors to consider carefully in deciding whether a given financial engineering program is right for you. A school of engineering, for example, will have a very different institutional culture and lead to very different alumni ties than a school of business would.
All FE programs demand strong quantitative skills. Most require an undergraduate degree in science, mathematics, engineering, or a similar discipline. Inadequate quantitative ability is the most common reason that students are denied admission to financial engineering programs.
Financial engineering programs differ significantly from MBA programs. They prepare their students for a very specific career track rather than for general management positions. Only a few universities offer combined or concurrent MBA and financial engineering study.
Financial engineering programs require a year of intensive, full-time study. Part-time programs (with evening classes, designed for working students) are available only at certain universities. Several universities offer shorter-term certificate programs or non-degree study for students who want to learn specific aspects of financial engineering.
The following table lists some highly-regarded graduate programs in financial engineering. For more information about graduate study in this field, see the bottom part of this page.
M.S. in Financial Engineering (1 yr FT)
App. deadline: Jan. 5
Fall start only. “Appropriate mathematical background in probability, calculus and linear algebra required”
Acceptance rate: 7%
M.S. in Financial Engineering (FT is usually 4 semesters)
App. deadlines: Priority: Dec. 15, Regular: Feb. 15
Prereqs: linear algebra, probability theory, advanced calculus, applied statistics, computer programming
Only GRE scores are accepted.
M.S. in Computational Finance (MSCF) (3 semesters FT)
App. deadlines: Dec. 10 and Mar. 10
Avg. GMAT: 750
Master of Finance (M.Fin.)
App. deadline: Dec 31
Prereqs: linear algebra, multivariable calculus, differential equations, probability and statistics
Accepts GRE and GMAT
M.S. in Financial Mathematics (15 months FT; PT study available)
Application deadline: Jan. 7 and Mar. 15
Prereqs: “strong math skills (multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and probability), relevant work experience, and basic computer programming skills”
Master’s in Financial Engineering (MFE) (1 yr FT – spring start only)
App. deadlines: Jan. 24, Apr. 4, Jun. 20 and Oct. 3
Prereqs: Quant background (“linear algebra, multivariate calculus, differential equations, numerical analysis and advanced statistics and probability”), computer programming and experience with math and statistical applications
Accepts GRE and GMAT